Monday, July 11, 2011

Switzerland or bust 2011

We just got back from our long awaited family vacation to Switzerland.  We had planned this trip in 2009, saving up money and time for our 10 year wedding anniversary.  As life doesn't always work out the way we hope, last summer Abu Tulip's dad died suddenly and our summer plans changed quickly.  This year has been an emotional roller coaster for us all, with loss overshadowing some great experiences of living in the Middle East.  In just over a week we'll head for an extended stay in America.  We're looking forward to being close to family, and curious about how the reverse culture shock will play out in our kids.  As I won't be teaching this semester, I hope to take time to post more often and more than that, pause and reflect on the journey we're on.

Here are a few pictures from our trip.  I wish I could post them all, but I honestly don't think my few readers really want to see them as much as I'll enjoy talking about them.

The first night there we were blessed with a rainbow.  I took this picture from the window of our room.  Seriously.  The reminder that God is faithful through every storm has stuck with me throughout our travels.

We took a walk through the village after the rain cleared and came upon this covered bridge.  I turned to Abu Tulip and said, "it's hard to even imagine evil existing after seeing this".  Just a public road with such extraordinary beauty.  The care the community puts in to tending to their gardens.  No litter, no broken down benches.  Just a small village that cares about creation and welcomes visitors to meander along the roads and take it all in.
A few days later we took a train and then a gondola up the mountainside for a 6 mile hike to a lake.  We were in First, and although the hike was exhausting with 3 boys, the views were breathtaking.  We all earned ice cream from Migros Supermarket back in the village after that day.  

The second half of our trip took us to the village of Monstein, near Davos.  This is the interior of a church built in the 1600s.  the village currently has 180 inhabitants, and our Australian friends who live there have built an amazing community.  Each day people dropped by to chat, invite children over to play, or literally borrow a cup of sugar.  I sat in the church alone for quite some time, just imagining what it might have been like to worship here during a particularly harsh winter some 400 years ago.  We were up at an altitude that was likely unreachable many months of the year, yet the Swiss work ethic and determination has certainly paid off, making it such a prosperous country.

A few patterns that caught my eye.  I'm not an experienced photographer, and I just have a regular point and shoot camera.  I'm afraid my pictures of the alps, while amazing to me, aren't near the quality you can find in other places.  So often as we hiked around, rode in the trains, or just looked out the window, I'd comment that there was no way a camera could even capture the sights.  Snow-capped mountains, green pastures, majestic peaks and deep valleys.  After seven years of living in a desert country, it was a feast for the eyes!

These next few pictures show the ceiling of the church, stacks of wood ready for winter, cobblestone pavement, and a stain glassed window that is over 400 years old.  As Teddy Bear told me on one hike, "Mom, there sure are a lot of mountains in Switzerland.  Like 152 of them!" 

One day we headed up to an alp, the green pastures high in the mountains where farmers take their cattle in the warm summer months.  We made a small fire to roast sausages right among the cows.

Our final hike was from the Rinerhorn back over to Monstein.  We rode the gondola up with our friends, and they went back home with our kids via gondala and car.  Abu Tulip and I hiked several hours alone.  We never saw another person, just continually took in the majesty of the mountains.  We finished the evening with our anniversary dinner at a village inn.  Traditionally Swiss food including, rosti, which is like hash browns, pork, veal, potato soup, and impeccable service.    As much as we love our three active boys, having a few hours alone is a rare pleasure and it was great to catch up and reflect on the past year.  It hasn't been an easy one, for sure.  We are thankful for our three healthy boys, for the adventure of raising them in a bilingual / bicultural setting, and for the perspective that being American in the Arab world brings.  We are blessed with many loving friends and family members, and a choir community that fills our days with singing and laughter.  Our church communities teach us more about what we hope to be, and our continual need for grace.  We are weary, and utterly dependent on our creator God for all things.  If He created these mountains, with all their peaks and valleys, He is sufficient.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Beautiful pictures!! I am so glad you all got to rest in such an amazing place.